We all know how much the Black Keys love to license their blues to any ad agency or film/TV music supervisor who can afford to have them. It turns out they’re also happy to hand out the bah-humbugs to any entities foolish enough to think they can get away with faking the Akron boys’ trademark sound. While Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have a proven sense of humor when it comes to accusations that they’ve sold out (over and over again), nobody’s laughing over the sacred status of their intellectual property, least of all casino developer Pinnacle Entertainment.
The rub, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is that Pinnacle used a “soundalike” version of Brothers track “Howlin’ for You” in at least two of its advertisements (since pulled down from YouTube). Soundalikes are legally licensed songs created for the express purpose of mimicking a better-known work, created by music production houses with an eye/ear toward cutting the familiarity with enough changes to make the thing suit-proof. But, no pun intended, it’s a gamble of a practice, and the Keys recently prevailed over a similar beef with Pizza Hut and Home Depot.
While the amount of last month’s out-of-court settlement hasn’t been disclosed, we’re guessing it was favorable to the Keys since they’re back at it like some kind of lawyered-up two-headed shark who’s just gotten his first taste of chum. As THR explains, before any charges were actually filed, reps for the casino company had no problem admitting that they paid for a piece of music “inspired by” (alternately “an interpretation of”) the song in question. This puts the defendants at risk of violating trademark law as well, via “false designation of origin” and “unfair competition.”
They are also suing the production house that provided the soundalike.